Crested Auklet

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Common Name: Crested Auklet
Scientific Name: Aethia cristatella

Size: 10 ½ inches (26.7 cm)

Habitat: North Pacific; breeds in Aleutians and other islands and coasts around Bering Sea. Winters in nearby ocean waters.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 8,200,000 mature individuals. Threats by introduced predators, oil spills and food shortages caused by global warming may cause significant population declines.

Diet: Krill, occasionally copepods, pteropods (such as Limacina), amphipods and larval fishes.

Nesting: Nests in huge colonies (10,000 to over 1 million individuals). In breeding season, white plume behind white eye and prominent forward-curving black crest; red bill, with an extra red plate on side of face. In winter, crest shorter, bill brown. Juveniles lack crest. Its crest ornament is present in both sexes and varies in size both within and between age groups. Crested Auklets are socially monogamous; both sexes prefer mates with large crests, an example confirming Darwin’s theory of mutual sexual selection. Males, and to a lesser extent females, compete aggressively for mates and nest sites, and crest size correlates with dominance. Pairs engage in elaborate courtship behavior with stereotyped postural displays that increase in intensity as courtship proceeds; displays may attract other Crested Auklets in jostling melees.

Nests are located deep in crevices. They lay a single egg per clutch. Both male and female help to care for their semi-precocial young, which fledges at almost adult size after about 33 days in its nesting crevice

Cool Facts: Perfume and insect repellant all in one? Crested auklets rub a citrus-like scent on each other during courtship which is secreted from the feathers on their backs. This behavior called “alloanointing”. While this behavior is well known among some mammals, only Crested and Whiskered Auklets have been found to exhibit this behavior in the bird world. The secreted oil is also believed to protect the birds from parasites, such as ticks.

Their main predators are Herring Gulls and other gulls, Arctic Fox and ravens, but they have been reported in the stomachs of halibut caught on St. Lawrence Island.

Found in Songbird ReMix Puffins

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